Matamoros, Tamaulipas - Tamaulipas authorities are on the hunt for two prison guards who are accused of helping 41 inmates escape from the Matamoros municipal detention center (CEDES, formerly known as CERESO) early Thursday morning.
The escape took place between 4 and 5 a.m. at the center when 38 federal inmates, three state inmates and two prison guards fled the center, said State Security Secretary Jose Ives Soberón Tijerina.
CEDES is located on the outskirts of Matamoros in the rural community of Santa Adelaida, about 15 miles from Brownsville.
The two prison guards were identified as Jose Angel Reyes Segovia and Agapito Uvalle Escalante.
In response to the escape, Soberón fired CEDES Director Jaime Cano Gallardo and the state director for the detention centers, Orlando Sauceda Pinta.
“They are subject to an investigation,” Soberón said.
Prison director Orlando Saucedo Pinto was put on temporary pending an investigation into how the prisoners got away, Mexican prison officials said at a news conference. As of Thursday afternoon, the entire staff of the detention center, including administrators, guards and secretarial employees, were placed in the custody of state investigators who were looking into the escape.
The security of the facility was turned over to the Tamaulipas Special Police (PET), a branch of the state police that is trained in special weapons and tactics.
The majority of the alleged Zetas and Gulf Cartel members who have been arrested in connection with the recent gun battles in the state were being kept at the Matamoros facility on federal charges, according to news releases from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and the Mexican army and navy.
It remains unclear whether the escapees include members of the Zetas or the Gulf Cartel, former allies that have recently been battling one another for control of lucrative smuggling routes through Tamaulipas and the Rio Grande Valley.
According to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration documents, the Zetas began as a rapid-response team of the Mexican army. The group was created to fight drug cartels but switched sides and became the personal guard of cartel leader Osiel Cárdenas Guillén.
After Cárdenas was arrested in Matamoros, the Zetas began operating as a separate entity working with the Gulf Cartel, the DEA says. Late last month, the two organizations began fighting over the slaying of a Zeta lieutenant who was mistakenly killed by Gulf Cartel members.
When the fighting started, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Familia Michoacana joined forces with the Gulf Cartel to take out the Zetas, according to Mexican authorities. It is rumored that the Zetas are being helped by the Beltran-Leyva and the Juárez cartels.